Nonivamide is an organic capsaicinoid compound naturally produced in chili peppers, also known as pelargonic acid vanillylamide or PAVA. It is also commonly manufactured synthetically for both commercial and pharmaceutical purposes.
Mammals are sensitive to the irritating effects of Nonivamide. This is due to the TRPV1 gene, also known as the capsicum receptor gene, which produces a vanilloid receptor protein that reacts to capsaicinoid compounds. While this gene is found in most mammals, it is not found in other animal groups such as birds and insects. As such, Nonivamide can be utilized in the production of mammal-specific deterrent sprays that do not impact other animal species. For example, a Nonivamide-based spray can be used to repel squirrels from taking seeds from bird feeders, without posing danger or irritation to the birds for which the feeders are intended.
Taste and Smell
Nonivamide also is used in food production to add a hot sensation to flavoring agents and spice mixtures. Sweets and confectionary industries also utilizes Nonivamide in products such as chili infused chocolate. Pharmaceutical industries use the compound as an alternative to capsaicin, as it is generally cheaper to produce.
Some warming or heating ointments utilize Nonivamide to stimulate the skin surface where it is applied, providing relief from conditions such as sore muscles and arthritis. Chemically this operates by increasing blood flow to the applied area, thus delivering more oxygen-carrying haemoglobin to the site and providing relief. It is readily absorbed by human skin and the effects last several hours. Finalgon is one common product which utilizes Nonivamide for this purpose.
Nonivamide also has applications as a weapon in the form of PAVA spray. It is dispensed from pressurized canisters as an incapacitating but non-lethal spray, analogous to mace or CS gas. The spray operates primarily by affecting the assailed person’s eye, causing intense pain and swelling. The spray is has an effective range of up to 12 feet, and with exposure to circulating air the effects usually wear off within 15 to 35 minutes. PAVA sprays are in use in the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Brazil. Common brand names include Captor and Peppershot.
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